skip to Main Content

On the radar: December motor vehicle sales down as light trucks lag

Motor vehicle sales in December fell to a total of 16.7 million units (SAAR) after 17.1 million in the prior month. The decline was in part due to a reset after an uptick in sales in November the followed the end of the UAW strike at GM in late October.

Domestically produced motor vehicle sales slipped to 13.0 in December after 13.3 million in November.

Sales in December rose for passenger cars to a total of 4.540 million from 4.477 million units in November, while light trucks declined to 12.160 million units after 12.608 million.

Sales of domestically produced passenger cars was up to 3.504 million units in December after 3.393 million in November. Sales of cars produced outside of North America were down to 1.036 million after 1.084 million.

December sales of light trucks — which includes minivans, SUVS, and crossovers — declined sharply for North American built units to 9.498 million after 9.919 million in November. Sales of foreign built light trucks were not much changed at 2.662 million after 2.689 million in the prior month.

The share of the market in passenger car sales in December was 27%, consistent with the second half of 2019. The share of sales for light trucks was 73%, remaining just below the all-time high of 74% seen in October and November. A large portion of consumers continue to opt for light trucks as more versatile and convenient in spite of somewhat higher price tags and cost of ownership than for many passenger cars. Relatively low fuel prices have helped cement this preference.

Purchases of heavy trucks by businesses remained soft at 497,000 in December after 462,000 in November when the strike cut into some buying of trucks due to lack of availability. The pace of sales for heavy trucks has not been this slow since July 2018.

Back To Top